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A review by Jamy Ian Swiss in The Lyons Den 11/27/2019
Everything I’ve written about The Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal is equally true, if not more so, of The Dream Card Revisited. This booklet also addresses a single routine, at a slightly higher price than that asked for the Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal. In return for that slight difference, you get a book twice the length, that is nothing less than a master class in conjuring thinking, given by a master magician. That’s right: one hundred and fifty-eight pages dedicated to one routine. And a book filled with priceless teaching.
“Teaching” is the operative word. You don’t just get the instructions to a trick. You get every conceivable detail, and I cannot imagine a student completing study of this book and feeling that anything has been left out or any unanswered questions are left to linger. There are, for example, thirteen pages devoted to palming, describing multiple techniques, countless fine details, and superb theoretical discussion about misdirection, along with the author’s thoughts about other palming experts who have influenced his work, including the legendary Michael Skinner, and a contemporary, John Carney.
“The Dream Card” is a neo-classic take on the card-to-wallet plot, devised by Darwin Ortiz and first published in 1988 in his first and excellent book, Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table. It remains among his best-known routines—and for good reason. It brings a different approach to the standard card-to-wallet routine, invoking not just the effect of transposition, but also of a kind of time travel (not unlike Alex Elmsley’s “Between Two Palms”). The routine achieves a deep mystery with fairly minimal requirements: an extra card; a force (in Malek’s version); a palm; and a Balducci-style wallet. The original routine has been used by countless magicians (I’ve used it myself on the trade show floor), and it’s sparked variations, notably including Jim Swain’s terrific “Airmail Card” (Miracles with Cards by James Swain; 1996).
Malek considers Ortiz’s trick to be “a one-of-a-kind brilliant card trick,” that he has been performing professionally for more than twenty-five years. In that period, the author has devised a number of “ideas that preserve the effect while, at the same time, make other areas of the routine stronger.” I believe these claims are accurate, and reasonably made—grounded in real-world experience, not armchair theorizing, or vaporous wishful thinking of the kind that fuels the instant download market.
Purchasing this book will deliver a reputation-making, career-supporting, miracle routine to your repertoire—assuming, of course, you put in the necessary study and practice, and all-around effort required. But that’s not why you should buy this book.
You should buy this book because David Malek is both an excellent thinker, and an excellent teacher. When I think about some of the greatest influences, teachers, mentors, and colleagues I’ve known in the course of my life in magic, the one thing they all had, or have, in common, is the level of detail in their thinking. Dai Vernon, Johnny Thompson, Michael Skinner, Tommy Wonder, Juan Tamariz … these men, and others like them, have expanded my thinking—about not only what to think, but also about how to think, and about what is available to think about, and is worth thinking about. Every phone conversation, letter and phone call I ever exchanged with Michael Skinner served to further expand my universe of thought about magic.
That’s exactly the level of detail you get in The Dream Card Revisited. This isn’t just a book about a trick; it is a guided tour and a teaching course in expert thinking about conjuring. I believe, above all, that that is what you stand to learn from its pages. And that’s the kind of lesson that is impossible to put a price on.
The Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal is for the serious performing magician who wants a professional gambling-themed routine. This is a featured showpiece that has been thoroughly audience-tested and is used as a closer in one of David Malek’s shows, a spot he reserves for only the strongest material.
Effect: A game of Poker using only ten cards is played multiple times between the magician and spectator. Despite being more and more fair as each round progresses (and, in fact, seemingly giving the spectator greater control and the advantage), the magician succeeds in winning every hand.
Review by Jamy Ian Swiss
David Malek is a sleight-of-hand close-up magician and gambling expert who has published little of his work, and is not widely known in the magic world, beyond the borders of California where he resides, and the halls of the Magic Castle where he has long performed (albeit in on-and-off-streaks throughout the years), and where I first met him in the early Nineties.
The first time I encountered him, he was performing at the Castle in the Close-up Gallery where he was doing a gambling demo act that featured two overwhelming elements: first, some of the best riffle run-up work I had ever seen; and second, an arch, larger-than-life character, as if he had stepped out of “Guys and Dolls” and sat down at the card table. Needless to say, I loved what I saw.
The deliberate meta-joke of that character, and of the fuzzy borders of where its line might fall between truth and deception, is a “joke” that not everyone always gets, and that can turn some people, especially magicians, off. To me, and to countless audiences I’ve witnessed firsthand, the results—particularly in the guise of his more current persona as “The King” (a running reference throughout his act)—are captivating, and hilarious. The reason I agreed to write the introduction to the first of these two small booklets, The Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal, is because I first saw the author perform this routine at the Castle, accompanied by a friend of mine, a talented actress who likes magic and is extremely discerning in her tastes. I took her to three excellent shows at the Castle that night. Malek’s was her favorite, and I understand why. He closed with the routine at hand and had us both screaming with laughter, and at times, all but out of our seats and on the floor. We weren’t the only ones.
I mention these facts in the book’s introduction. I also mention that of all the countless versions of the Ten-Card Poker Deal in print (including those among the massive collection, the Bammo Ten Card Deal Dossier compiled and written by Bob Farmer), this routine stands out as notable in several worthy respects. For one, it contains as many as seven phases, if you choose to utilize the entirety, including a final phase in which the cards are torn in half and the effect is still achieved. That length probably reads as ludicrous to many if not most readers, and I would likely be skeptical myself if I hadn’t myself seen the routine performed live. Each phase serves a purpose and, as in any well-constructed routine, each phase rises in interest and audience engagement. What’s more, the effect becomes increasingly mysterious. Despite the fact that (or perhaps, because) the Ten-Card Poker Deal is a sleight-free trick, Malek’s handling manages to put the secret, as it were, into the spectator’s hands, twice, in turn serving to cancel the method even further than in many other versions.
While it may seem a hyperbolic, over-the-top-claim, the title of The Ultimate Ten-Card Poker Deal—indeed, like other aspects of David Malek’s persona and performances—the word “ultimate” might actually be appropriate in this case. This is a mystifying, entertaining, multi-phase routine that can close an act—a routine with which you can apply all of your focus and attention to the performance, and to your relationship with the spectator and audience, rather than to executing challenging methodology. All of this, and more, is explained in exquisite detail by the author, who provides not mere instructions, but a true lesson in constructing a routine, and learning how to perform it. It’s the invaluable depth and care of that lesson, above and beyond the power of the routine, that makes the asking price more than reasonable. Skip buying the next instant download and buy a genuine lesson in magic and showmanship.